Roman, Imperial Period, ca. late 1st century CE. Finely carved from a single piece of white marble, the head of a bearded male with features that are remarkably naturalistic: thick-lidded almond-shaped eyes, an arched browline that once led to his nose (now missing), deep nasolabial folds framing his thick mustache, a full beard framing the lower half of his face to his jutting chin, and a thick head of wavy hair crowning his high forehead. Size: 8.75" L x 8" W x 10.875" H (22.2 cm x 20.3 cm x 27.6 cm); 17.25" H (43.8 cm) on included custom stand.
The short beard style that we see on this portrait became popular by the early 2nd century CE; coinciding with the resurgence of Hellenism under the emperor Hadrian (117 to 138 CE). During the years prior to Hadrian, facial hair was regarded as a trait belonging to so-called barbarians. Perhaps the most famous monument depicting this is Trajan's column (113 CE) which presents the Dacians with full beards. The era of Hadrian, however, saw the rise of bearded imperial portraits intended to emulate the Greek philosophers.
A very similar bust was listed in Sothebys, New York - June 25, 1992 - Lot 129.
Provenance: ex-private Leit collection, Los Angeles, California, USA, acquired in London and imported to the USA in 1986
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Repaired from about 3 to 4 large pieces with restoration over the break lines. Losses to nose, neckline, and high-pointed areas of coiffure, ears, browline etc. Expected surface wear commensurate with age. Traces of mineral deposits across the surface. Large drilled hole behind head, presumably for attaching to another element.